Ben’s Bells: Ten years of teaching kindness
This Saturday marks the anniversary of the tragic Sandy Hook shooting. At that time, Bens Bells of Tucson volunteers went to Newtown, Connecticut to distribute Ben’s Bells - small wind chimes with a note to ask whoever finds it to do something kind. Since then, a chapter of Ben’s Bells has been established in the small town, and they, also, have been teaching kindness.
Ben’s Bells started in Tucson ten years ago, begun by Jeannette Mare‘ and her family. The kindness of friends and strangers, after the losing their 3 year old son, pulled them through the ordeal. Jeanette enjoyed working with clay, and, joined by friends began making Ben‘s Bells. On the anniversary of Ben’s death, Jeannette hung the bells around Tucson, with a note to take them home and pass on the kindness.
Now, over 100 schools in Tucson invite Ben’s Bells to teach students to make and paint the clay decorations and bells, and encourage being kind. Being kind can be something as simple as saying “Thank you,” or opening a door. Parents believe it helps students handle bullying - and makes the bully an outcast.
In addition, the University of Arizona and Stanford University performed quantitative studies on the behavior and health benefits of learning to thank others for being kind.
Volunteers hanging the bells at the Gabriell Gifford’s crime scene attracted the attention of NBC News, which had a small feature on the history of Ben‘s Bells. Suddenly, Ben’s Bells was no longer only a Tucson entity. Other cities and other states wanted to make and hang them.
The University of Arizona student athletes has joined with Ben’s Bells to form a “Be kind. Step Up!“ program http://www.stepupprogram.org/about/bekind.htm
where anyone can get a bracelet and pass it on to someone for being kind. The site asks for recipients of a bracelet to tell their story .
Remember this season, teach someone to be kind by being kind yourself.